Softball blows out Purdue, sweeps series
By Logan Schiciano
Northwestern softball (30-6, 11-1 B1G) took the series finale against Purdue Sunday 10-2, behind a historic day for Maeve Nelson. The senior shortstop collected 8 RBIs – tied for the most in a single game in program history – as the No. 8 Wildcats completed a series sweep against the Boilermakers.
Ace Danielle Williams took the ball for the ‘Cats on Sunday. While she struggled with command and gave up a couple singles early, the lefty wiggled her way out of trouble by collecting two strikeouts in the top of the first.
With the bases empty in the bottom half of the first, Rachel Lewis was intentionally walked by Purdue pitcher Brenna Smith. After the graduate student tattooed Purdue pitching over the first two games of the series (5-6, with four home runs), the Boilermakers had no plans to pitch to Lewis all day, intentionally walking her all three times at bat.
But the decision came back to bite Purdue each time, including in the opening frame when Lewis stole second and eventually scampered home on a Maeve Nelson single.
The ‘Cats would go down quietly in the bottom of the second but found success their next time up. Singles courtesy of Skyler Shellmyer and Jordan Rudd, along with another Lewis walk, loaded the bases for Nelson, who drilled a grand slam off of Welsh-Ryan Arena. Her seventh bomb of the year put Northwestern ahead 5-0 at the end of the third.
Purdue’s Kaeley Hallada would answer in the top half of the fourth with a two-run homer getting the Boilermakers on the board. It was the eighth long ball Williams has surrendered this season.
Though the first two games of the series ended early due to the “run rule,” when the ‘Cats came to bat in the bottom of the fourth only up 5-2, it looked like fans would get their money’s worth with a full seven inning game this time. But Nelson and company had other ideas.
Northwestern loaded the bases once again and Rudd drove home one with a sacrifice fly. That set the stage for Nelson who powered a three-run homer into dead center field, giving the ‘Cats a 9-2 lead and her historic 8 RBIs for the day. Northwestern still needed one run to reach the eight-run “run rule” threshold. They got it from the very next batter, Angela Zedak, who hit a solo shot to left field.
Williams closed out the game in the fifth with two more strikeouts, and Northwestern won its sixth game in a row.
It was the 14th complete game of the year for Williams who racked up eight strikeouts on the afternoon. Along with Nelson, Shellmyer was the other Wildcat to record multiple hits and freshman Lauren Sciborski picked up the first hit of her career.
The ‘Cats sit in second place in the Big Ten softball standings, and will hit the road for a midweek double header against Illinois, before heading to Bloomington for a three-game set this weekend with Indiana.